Most mornings these days begin with a depressing news of a child succumbing to the pressure – of peers, of teachers, of parents and of academics. Talking to your own co-workers and friends makes you realise that the fresh graduates aren’t really geared up to face life and its realities, and they can’t cope with responsibilities. It makes you wonder then – how do you actually make your child mentally strong? A little bit of reflection, and talking to some experts, including my own parents, helped me put together this list of tips:
Keep away from instant gratification
We seem to have a quick-fix to everything. The child is upset at not having won a game, we get him a gift to brighten him up. We get late from work, or cannot make to the all-important school concert, we immediately bribe the child in the form of the latest toy. With the families being able to afford more, rewards and gifts don’t wait for a special occasion. Instead, they are offered at the first instant the child expresses that he wants it, or sometimes, even before that! In the long run, the children have lost out on the entire cycle of working towards a goal, waiting for the results and then the anticipation of the reward.
Don’t let them use gadgets to avoid uncomfortable situations
Gadgets do more harm than the obvious one of limiting one’s ability to think. They have become a very convenient and handy way of avoiding an uncomfortable situation. We want some peace and quiet, we hand over a mobile phone to the child. The child doesn’t want to participate in a conversation, he takes a cue, and busies himself with a tab. Avoiding discomfort has become as easy as that. And the result? They never learn to deal with a problem, and at the first sign of things going awry, they will try to escape!
Make conversation time sacrosanct
OK, confession time! How many of us spend at least half an hour talking to our children? And this does not include asking them to get ready, or running after them to get their homework done. Conversation means an uninterrupted, distraction-free time, spent only talking about something as mundane as how was their day, or as big as the existential questions. A time, where the child feels comfortable and secure to open up, to share his fears and insecurities, and an opportunity for us parents too, to learn from the children.
Make them practice reflection
It is very important for every individual to reflect upon their actions. And the sooner the kids get used to doing this, the better. By analysing the situations and their reactions, the children become a better person with each reflection. This also helps in building up their emotional quotient – a key asset in dealing with life when they grow up.
Free play and outdoor sports
The outdoors time and free play can’t be emphasized enough. When we have a schedule for everything right from the time-table at school to the days and slots for the after-school activities, we are not leaving enough time for kids to sit and wonder, or do nothing. Life becomes such a routine-driven thing that a bot of unpredictability makes the kids nervous. We need to leave kids with enough time to get bored, so that they can work their way out of that problem, and the others that they find along the way.
Don’t tell them they can be or get anything they want
Yes, you read it right! We can’t have anything that we want, and that’s the truth of life. Why do we then want to make our kids believe so? Yes, we need to motivate them to push themselves harder, but the focus should be on giving their best, and not on the result. Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, we don’t always get what we wanted. We should make sure that the kids know that. When they lose, they shouldn’t lose the lesson.
Involve them in chores
One of the most common mistakes we make as parents is not to ‘weigh down’ our children with responsibilities. May be it’s the conditioning, may be we want them to have the best of everything, but we tend to keep them away from any hard work apart from their studies or their activities. As such, the kids grow up without the essential life skill of looking after themselves!
Let them fail
Honestly! Borrowing from one of the most effective parenting blog I have read:
“By not allowing our children to fail, we are failing our children. By shielding them from temporary pain, we are making them permanent quitters. We seem to have forgotten that without struggle, there can be never be any progress. That our children need to go through embarrassing moments, so they can develop the gift of empathy.” Enough said!
What do you do to make your children mentally strong? Do share with us!